August, 2008

 

08/02:  Today was brother Rick's first fishing day here in Vail.  He flew into DIA yesterday, and he was able to get in a bit of fishing on Clear Creek with some success on his way up I-70 to get to our condo.

After a nice pulled pork BBQ dinner, we all retired for the night and got our equipment ready for today's expedition.  

 

Which was.........a drive back over Vail Pass to the banks of Ten Mile Creek right along the freeway.  Ten Mile's still running a bit on the high side as are most other streams in the state, but it was eminently wadable.

 

With no hatches evident we both rigged up with an attractor dry and a copper john trailer for Rick and a bead head buckskin for myself.  The fishing was very decent right out of the box.  Shallow edges to riffles, deeper eddies, and most any other place one would think should have held a fish, did so.  

 

Sizes are pretty small as one would expect on a high mountain stream such as this.  Most of the trout are browns though more rainbows crept into the mix than we're used to here.

 

We made a couple of different pulloffs and fought our way through lots of streamside brush, fishing probably a good mile or so of this creek.

 

It was a lot of fun having to work pretty hard to get the flies into difficult holding water.  I made one of my typical blunders and didn't catch the problem as early as I should.  When I missed seven straight strikes in one nice pool, it should have entered my tiny brain to check the fly, but I didn't do that right away.  

Another handful of missed strikes in the next run led me to look at the hook which of course had been bent tight to the fly by my forcept on an earlier release.  

 

Finally correcting the problem got me back in business again.

 

Rick caught the fish of this part of the trip - a fat thirteen inch rainbow.  

 

My browns topped out at about a dozen although I know I missed some strikes from slightly larger fish.

After a couple of hours we headed into Silverthorne to fuel up, have a bite of lunch, and take a look at the Blue.  The latter stream is now flowing at more normal summer levels, so we drove to the town offices and hiked a quarter mile or so to try this difficult river.  Difficult it turned out to be.  Again, no visible hatches were present so we kept on what we'd used on Ten Mile.

Possibly not the best idea.  For a half hour of casting I had a grand total of two strikes to the dry with no hookups.  Rick had even less than that.  We departed.

 

 

 

Driving back to Vail, we pulled off the freeway at the top of Vail Pass and did a quick bit of casting on upper Black Gore Lake.  

 

It was pretty dismal.  

 

 

Happily Rick broke the jinx and landed the only fish of the day up here - another fat fifteen inch rainbow.  That was pretty much it.

Tomorrow we drive to Buena Vista with several stops on the Arkansas going and coming.

 

8/3:  Day two of Rick's 2008 Colorado fishing experience.  Let's be honest.  It turned out great!  This was our day to experience the Arkansas, and experience it we did.  The three of us, Rick, doggie Sky, & I left Vail around 9:00 this morning, drove to Copper Mountain, turning uphill at that point, over the pass and ended up in Leadville roughly forty five minutes later.

Our first planned stop was to be at the Crystal Lakes access point to the river, but when we made our way to the parking spot, two other cars were already there.  So rather than engage in some combat fishing, we turned around and continued a bit further down the highway to Hayden Meadows.  As no other people appeared to be fishing upstream, we rigged up and started the hike that direction, casting into any water that appeared to be productive.

Fun it was.  

 

Our respective rigs - Rick with stimulator and trailing prince - myself with WRS rubber leg and trailing antenna pupa almost immediately began producing fish.  

 

The only problem with this part of the river is that it's too short - - in length.  A half hour of walking and casting brought us to the end of the fishable area, but both of us had a good time.  

 

Several nice browns in the ten to fourteen inch range were released and lots of other strikes were missed.

One of only two rainbows released today.

 

On to the road again.  Continued south past Twin Lakes and Clear Creek ending up at the bottom of the lower part of the Granite wade.  

 

This turned out to be a bit tougher, though similarly productive.  

 

Each of us worked the opposite sides of the stream and towards the Granite Bridge, both of us caught several nice browns again in the same size range as up in Hayden.

Off again.  This time to Buena Vista with visions of a wonderful hamburger at the K's Dairy Delite.  Bad timing when we got to town.  A line twenty five meters long was in place, so we opted out of that idea and while fueling up at the 7-11, chowed down on a plump hot dog instead.  Not as much fun as the burger, but a whole lot quicker.

Then it was down to River Park and the hike down our respective sides of the river here.  Way too much water running as it turned out.  Neither Rick nor I had great success in these enhanced flows, but we both still caught a few fish here.  Sizes were all under a dozen inches.

Rick casting - and the dog basking - on the meadows of the Crystal Lakes access.

OK.  On the road again.  Drove north again and back to our initial fishing point - the Crystal Lakes access.  

 

This time no other cars in the small lot - apparently the prior fishers having been driven off the water by the thunderstorm that had passed through the area, or they simply had enough for the day.

We loved it.

Did the long walk across the fields and marshes to the entry point below a railroad bridge and almost immediately caught a wonderful sixteen inch brown beneath the bridge.

 

 

That kind of activity continued through the rest of our hike through this terrific stretch of the Arkansas.  

 

Just beyond great fishing.  In all the years I've fished the Ark. I've never encountered so many good sized browns here.  To be able to release multiple handfuls of twelve to sixteen inch fish in this part of the river is almost unbelievable.  But believe it, it happened today.

 

 

8/4-6:  We basically took a day off from fishing on Monday.  Rick spent a bit of time on Gore Creek while I caught up on some business stuff.

Tuesday we left town on a major overnight expedition in the Eurovan to some of our favorite destination streams.  The drive to our starting point took almost three hours - more than we expected - though given our relaxed speeds on the freeway, the savings in fuel might justify our later time starting on the water.  

When we arrived at our regular starting point parking lot, the lot was already full - - - of cars.  That's never happened before. It was something of a shock and led us to head to another part of the stream.

 

We kept going up the river until we found a place that was more or less open to us alone.  Rigged up.  I crossed the creek and Rick proceeded down the opposite side.  We hiked maybe a third of a mile before beginning to cast the water.

 

Our setups were a bit different all day long.  I ended up having more success with a green/black rubber leg WRS with a caddis pupa trailer and Rick seemed to do better with a double nymph rig.

 

We found fish everywhere.  The flow rate seems to be just as high as it was a couple of weeks ago so it continues to be difficult to wade and tough to cast along either bank.  Shallower edges of riffles were outstanding, as were some of the deeper holes behind structure.  The only notable sets of insects available were caddis sitting in the bushes along the bank.  Maybe a yellow sally here and there but virtually nothing else in the air.

A nice heavy bodied steelhead sized rainbow.

 

So why the fish found a rubber leg attractor appealing is beyond me.  Maybe that's why stimulators work so well most of the time too. 

 

Anyway it was wonderful fishing.  A few good sized whiteys found their way to the pupa, but for the most part, rainbows dominated the catch (and release).  

 

 

A handful of nice sized 13-18 inch cuts rounded out the day.

 

The rainbows were outstanding.  Yes, there were some smaller ones in the 10-12 inch range.  

 

And yes, we did release some in the 18-22 inch range, but several of the ones we lost were even better than that.  I had flies and tippet torn off the leader, and Rick experienced the same thing.

 

Just an amazing day of fishing.

 

As we returned to the van, a heavy thunderstorm broke over us and kept us pinned down for almost an hour.  

When it let up, we reasoned that perhaps it had also driven most of the other fishermen off the river, so we went back to our regular parking area and found that to be the case. 

 

Subsequently we were able to re-fish our legendary trough hole even though we knew it had be heavily cast over earlier in the day.  That clearly was the case as the trout here were much more wary.  

 

Nonetheless we had very decent success in the pool, maybe releasing another dozen fish here alone.

 

With somewhere between 40-60 releases between us, this would go down as a classic day on the water.  We headed up to the hill above a lake for the night, had a pleasant dinner, and retired until the morning.

Up early with a light breakfast we then drove back to yesterday afternoon's spot and got ready to spend another quick hour or two on the stream here. 

 

 

 

Rick's enjoying last night's dinner again - - - - but at the other end of the digestive tract!

 

 

 

 

Another car drove up and two other fisher people raced to rig up to get out ahead of us.  When we started upstream first, they decided to fish by the lower bridge - a place with little hope of any success.  Eventually they decided to follow us upstream and they started fishing a riffle just above us, watching us all the time.

Finally as I was releasing a nice twenty inch rainbow, these twinks decided they'd be better off fishing where we were fishing, so they hiked back downstream directly past my brother who was casting along the bank.  It was appalling watching that lack of courtesy to another fisherman.  I asked my bro if he'd screamed at them and he acknowledged not doing so.  You're too much of a gentleman Rick.  I would have taken their heads off.

They were lousy fishermen but managed to hook a couple of whitefish while we were still in the area.  I have zero tolerance for people like that.  There was a clear mile of wonderful water to fish with no one else on it, and these jerks just had to do the combat thing.  I'm guessing they're from Denver.  If you ever run into their brown Honda CRV, license number 561-KHX, avoid them like the plague.

 

We left the river.  Headed back to town and spent a bit of time at the park.  I walked up river again and played a handful of sub twelve inch browns on a caddis pupa.  

 

Then it was off to Glenwood for lunch and a short stint on the Roaring Fork.  Rick went downstream from the Sunlight Bridge and I hiked up the bank above it.

 

This river too is way too high.  I'd guess it's at normal mid June levels and still very tough to fish.  The pockets I worked proved better than the flats below the bridge as I played another dozen browns up there.

We were tiring of fishing a bit, though as we looked at the Eagle on the way back home, it looked like the nice water behind the fairgrounds might be worth trying.  We did try - completely unsuccessfully.  The stream looked fine, but neither of us had a fish on here.  That was the end.  We were fished out and drove back to Vail without further attempts on the water.

We had a great few days of fishing a wide variety of creeks and streams.  I don't think Rick's quite ready to go home yet.

 

8/13-14:  The single overnighter we did this week was mostly a test to see how both dogs would function in our smaller Honda Element.  In the Eurovan they have plenty of space to run around while we're in motion - and also to get some separation from each other.  That's not the case in our completely loaded Element.  While we'd prefer taking the VW on all of our trips due to its spaciousness, the other car's a must when we're on back roads and in places where four wheel drive is almost a necessity.

So our choice of vehicles for this expedition on the Arkansas River was the Element.  Below Salida there are nasty dirt roads on which the van couldn't function under any circumstances.

We made our way through Leadville and stopped shortly south of there to try that Crystal Lakes stretch of the upper river that had been so productive when Rick was here last week.  

 

Today for whatever reason (probably more recent heavy fishing pressure), it wasn't so hot.

 

Our rigs were identical to the previous time here - and a decent number of fish did fall prey to the rubber legs - but the numbers and particularly the sizes weren't quite up to snuff.  

 

Despite being somewhat disappointed in our results, the dogs both functioned just fine as fishers, and the scenery is pretty spectacular with Mt. Massive in the background of this photo and Mt. Elbert visible behind us here.

 

After an hour plus on the water we exited the area, drove to Buena Vista for our favorite burger lunches and then continued on south past Salida.

 

Reports have the Arkansas flowing below normal levels, but you couldn't prove that by me.  I thought the flows were still much higher than we previously have seen this late in the summer.  That was confirmed when we had to drive over a short stretch of the river that had cut its way into the surface of  the back road across from Wellsville where we spend quite a bit of time.

 

 

 

Here we had more fun.  Sue got to hook and release a number of fish from this tiny braid that passes along the right bank of the river just below where we had parked.  I fished the opposite side in the middle of the river and was able to land a good handful of mixed small browns and rainbows.

 

 

At another series of braids just a bit further upstream both of us had more success casting along the bank and in pockets.  I walked downstream to fish the shoreside eddies and was hooking a fish every ten feet or so.  Wonderful!  It was tough casting with the water levels as high as they were.  Hanging on to a willow with one hand while casting and striking with just the other one is not the most fun in the world, but the results were worth the effort.

Probably the most interesting occurrences this time were the increased numbers of rainbows in the catch.  Historically we've released maybe twenty browns for every rainbow touched.  

 

This time it seemed that the ratio was more between one in five or ten browns to bows.  Don't know if they've begun stocking Hofers down here but hopefully that's the case.

 

We fished a couple more places, and in late afternoon found a wonderful place to set up camp and enjoy a pleasant evening.

 

Drove to a small plateau just above the river and a few feet uphill from where Sue's fishing another of the many braids that cut the river into several parts along this area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's our canopy setup for the night.  A couple of thunderstorms rumbled through late in the afternoon making us happy that we had this cover for our picnic table and other equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning we arose with the birds more or less thankful (NOT!) to the dogs who were ready to rumble at a very early hour.  Had the regular cup of mocha along with some breakfast bread, broke camp, and drove closer to Salida.  It really was a lot earlier than we normally would get out on the water - just too darn nippy given the fact we're still wet wading.

Sue opted to remain in the car with the hounds while I headed downstream to try some more bank water.  It turned out to be surprisingly decent fishing.  My oversized rubber leg WRS looked like a battleship on the stream, but even at 7:30 in the morning the fish were hungry.  Probably played another baker's dozen or so of mostly sub twelve inch browns before getting back to the car.  Only real highlight was being able to land and release a double.  One fish took the dry and the other the trailing antenna pupa.  That's always fun - as long as neither fish is large enough to pop off the tippet.

 

 

 

Here's one of the regular habitués of the Arkansas.

 

We're actually starting to enjoy these browns again after slighting them for several years.

 

 

 

8/19:  Finally!  Our weather has turned to gold after being rainy, snowy, and just plain ugly for the past couple of weeks.  In an effort to reduce my carbon footprint (right!) I hopped on the bike and peddled out to my favorite part of Gore Creek this afternoon despite knowing that the cloudless sky was not really optimum for catching conditions.

Wrong assumption again.  

 

The flow's come all the way down to normal mid summer levels, and the fishing was really wonderful again.  First hole where I've turned a nice fish a couple of previous times actually got him hooked up today on a #18 camel colored WRS.  

 

That's the good news.  The bad news is that it was only on for a couple of seconds.

 

My trailing fly started out as a #18 red copper john.  After nothing showed an interest in the next long run, I shifted to the same sized bead head buckskin.  What a difference.  Strikes came almost immediately, and the buckskin became the "closer" for the day.  Though I still had a bunch of strikes on the floater, the nymph was clearly a star.

That next run produced brooks, browns, and more small rainbows, so visions of a local grand slam lingered in my head for the couple of hours I was on the water.  So of course, just about then, I started getting strikes and playing fish, but not landing and releasing as many of them.

Interestingly our favorite little hole on this part of the creek which we long ago named "nevermiss" today missed.  I couldn't believe it.  Even its upstream cousin which is also a junior nevermiss hole did the same thing.

 

But overall the action was outstanding.  I released mostly rainbows and none were over thirteen inches or so, but a couple of the strikes were clearly from much better trout.  Just a very fun afternoon.

 

Tomorrow we head down to Glenwood to fish the Fork and the Crystal and spend another night working with both dogs on getting along in the Element.  

We're planning our annual 3-4 day trip to Taylor Park, the Gunnison tributaries for the following week, and it behooves us to have the puppies in a behaving mode for that long a period of time.

 

8/20-21:  Good weather continues.  But today's early morning fishing on the Roaring Fork was not as good as was the weather.  Historically that's been the case primarily due to difficult casting into what is always a downstream wind prior to its shifting direction around lunch time.

We parked behind Safeway in town and did the short walk down past the dog park to the public water along the river there.  Interestingly the flows are still pretty substantial making casting along the bank something of a chore.  I left Sue down behind a nice set of eddy rocks and walked a quarter mile above and around the water ahead of her, getting back to the stream at a decent riffle that extended well out into the river.

Still using that double dry/nymph rig and shortly caught a twelve inch brown that was resting in no more than six inches of water.  Unfortunately that was pretty much my success for the morning.  Upstream I shifted to a double nymph rig, but having to cast and retrieve it with my off hand.  I managed to miss a good six to dozen more strikes due to my ineptness, and that was frustrating.

 

 

Sue was a bit more successful, landing a nice little brown shown here.  But all in all it was just a pretty punk performance by both of us.

 

After a quick lunch at Wendy's we drove across the Sunlight Bridge and made our way up to the water just above the airport.  

 

Made the downstream hike for half a mile or so, and we split up to begin casting to this nice bank water.  I almost immediately hooked a nice sixteen inch brown that long released itself before I could get a photo.  But again, most of the rest of the water was a dud.  Another small brown further upstream was it for here.  Sue had no fun at all.

We were a bit discouraged when we made the drive back across the bridge turning right to go through Carbondale and a few miles up the Crystal.  Sue sat out our first stop as it was definitely left handed water.  That was a shame as all of a sudden, fishing took a real turn for the better.  Both the rubber leg WRS and trailing copper john took fish right away.  In fact the first hookup was a double of sub twelve inch rainbows.

 

 

More bows and browns followed up along the bank and in the middle of the fast water in the middle of the stream.  A quick half hour of casting in two long, fairly fast runs probably produced between 12-15 mixed species of these two kinds of trout.  

 

None were over thirteen, but it sure was a lot more fun than the morning.

 

Our next planned stop turned out to be fruitless as Anthracite Creek had suddenly started throwing some sludge into the Crystal, so we had to drive up closer to Redstone before finding clear water again.

Sue's enjoying some quiet bank water.

 

The fire station section proved equally good this afternoon.  Even in relatively flat water fish seemed to like the rubber leg.  Hoppers must be being blown into the stream from time to time.  

 

Caught another nice bunch of fish up here - the best being a fat fifteen inch rainbow.

 

We made our last stop of the afternoon in the middle of Redstone and fished the long riffle that flows through the middle of town.  Here Sue had good success fishing the deeper bank water on river right.  Except for one lonely strike, I was shut out.  All things considered, we really enjoyed the second half of this day.

Drove a bit further upstream stopping along the river just below the Marble turn off.  Had a nice happy hour and made a few more casts before driving up to our great camping spot well above the river looking directly at the Raggeds.  

 

 

 

After a pasta dinner we enjoyed the sunset and a neat rainbow compliments of a big virga cloud that passed harmlessly overhead.

 

 

 

 

This morning was just as nice when we awakened to that same great view of the Raggeds Wilderness area.  

 

With a quick mocha in our bellies we drove into Redstone hoping for a good breakfast, but as usual, no one does breakfast there.  

 

It was really too early to fish, but I ventured into the cold stream anyway (yes, still wet wading) and did manage to catch another handful of mixed rainbows and whiteys on nymphs before returning quickly to the car to warm up.

 

With the sun finally on the water a bit further downstream I made another cross the river wade and landed a couple more fish before throwing in the towel and driving into Carbondale for a good sized mid morning breakfast.

Then it was back to the Sunlight Bridge where we split up again and tried some bankside casting above that bridge.  

 

 

 

My pocket water proved more productive than did Sue's up by the big hole, but we both released a few fish.  Off again moving back towards home on I-70.  

 

We made one last quickie stop in Eagle at the fairgrounds and had a bit more success in some shallower tailout water before giving up completely and driving back to the condo.

Next week we'll do a three day trip to the Gunnison area which should be lots of fun.

 

8/23: A surprising bust today on some water that's been terrific in the past.  OK, not a complete bust although two fish landed and released comes close to a skunk.  

 

The old dog & I hiked some railroad tracks down the Eagle this afternoon to the part of this river we long ago labeled "the land that time forgot".  

 

It's an urban section of the stream but gets very little pressure due to the relatively long walk to get to it and the difficulty the bankside vegetation presents not only to casting but simple movement along the river.

 

My second cast in the very first hole yielded a nice fourteen inch brown.  The next couple of eddies brought more strikes but no hookups.  I thought it was going to be a normal day down here.  

 

But that was about the story for the next half mile of wading.  Don't know why this long section of nice pocket water was so quiet today.  

 

The shrubs along the bank were pretty much loaded with caddis waiting for nightfall, so maybe that's the only time the fish are feeding actively right now.

Anyway the only other fish released came from close to the bank in a large pool near the top of our wade.  It was a decent sized fifteen inch rainbow that also took the rubber leg WRS.

The dog swam and I waded across the tail of this pool where I changed to a double nymph rig in the hopes of finding some fish sulking along the bottom.  Nothing doing.  Amazing.  This pool is loaded with all kinds of browns and decent numbers of rainbows, but today I could not entice a strike from any fish whatsoever.

 

8/25:  In sharp contrast to yesterday's lousy results, this afternoon's fishing on Gore Creek was absolutely delightful.  Sue & I drove to the golf course to hit some balls for an hour or so, after which we drove further up the frontage road parking at a usual spot.

We rigged up and hiked down the bike path and began casting to some nice small pools and runs on the creek.  With water levels finally back to normal summer flows the open flats and runs having any kind of modest structure just seemed to hold lots of fish - even under hot afternoon sun conditions.

We both were set up with a small attracter floater and a trailing nymph.  Sue opted for a ribbed hare's ear, and I stuck with the BH buckskin.  The nymphs far and away were the most successful on an order of six to one or so.  Both of us took fish on our respective surface flies.  They just weren't quite as popular.

Each of our first fish were fat twelve inch cutbows.  Mostly rainbows followed, and each of us released a decent brown in that same size range.  The rest were between seven and ten inches.  Sounds pedestrian but it was fun.  We probably pinged 30-40 fish between us, missing more than we hooked.

As an extra added attraction, we also collected a couple dozen good water balls from the stream.  Not a bad afternoon.

 

8/26:  Another nice afternoon took us (the two dogs & me) out to the Colorado by State Bridge.  It was immediately apparent that the stream flow was too heavy to allow us to safely hike/wade the younger pup all the way upstream to our favorite braid, so we compromised on fishing the water just below and just above the confluence with the Piney River.

 

Hiked down the steep path to the river and started casting in some pocket water - almost immediately hooking a couple of smallish browns on the trailing antenna pupa.  

 

For whatever reason the rubber leg surface fly was almost totally ignored today despite the presence of lots of hoppers on the bank and even a pterornarcys or two on some exposed rocks in the river.

 

Several more fish followed up to the mouth of the Piney where we walked up to the big pool just before the first bend but had no strikes up there.

Dogs resting a hundred yards up the Piney from its meeting with the Colorado.

 

Casting along the bank above the confluence brought a few more fish to the pupa and eventually a couple to the dry.  Best fish of the day - in the 14-16 inch range took my flies to the bottom of a fast section, hung one up and broke the other off.  

 

Other than that, most of the fish were under twelve inches.  Not a great day on the river, but at least the dogs enjoyed it.

 

Tomorrow we're off on a three day loop trip to the Arkansas, Taylor, East, Gunnison, Anthracite, and the Crystal.  Should be fun.

 

 

 

Last Logbook Entry  é for previous day 

8/27-29:  Browns, browns, and more browns.  That pretty much was the "fishy" theme of this week's three day loop trip focused on the Gunnison basin.

 

Drove out of town early Wednesday morning, turning up highway 24 to Leadville and beyond.  

 

Had hoped to stop one more time at the Crystal Lakes section of the Arkansas, but the parking area was already occupied so we continued on down the road towards Buena Vista.  

 

Happily the lower part of the Granite section was almost empty of anglers which gave us an opportunity there.  River left (my side) has lots better structure and proved to be more successful than did Sue's side of the river, but both of us caught decent numbers of trout here.

Sizes weren't as large as normal, but the fish were actively taking both our rubber leg attractors on the surface and a bead head buckskin below the film.

 

After an hour of this it was time to enjoy our favorite burger lunch in BV which we did.  Then it was up and over Cottonwood Pass and down to Taylor Park.  

 

As usual our first stop was the nice water in the River's End campground.  No one else was on it.  

 

Sue hiked across while I worked my way up the left side.  Here the better results fell into her lap.  She caught a nice fourteen inch rainbow and several other fish, while I picked up a handful of small bows and browns but missed numerous strikes.

Sue's working her way up the right side of the Taylor above the reservoir.

 

After that we drove upstream a bit further, found some unoccupied water and waded for another hour.  

 

No hatches were evident, and the fish were very selective and secretive.  We did land a few, missed more, but decided it was not worth while spending the night here to repeat the session in the morning.  

Kept going downstream past the reservoir and Taylor Dam not stopping at that heavily fished tailwater and not stopping along the way down towards Almont until the last bridge above that town.  Here things got much better.  In all honesty we've never historically had much luck on the Taylor at all.  The river drops like a cascade almost throughout its length, and we simply haven't taken the necessary time to understand it.

 

But by the bridge today I found very decent fishing close to the bank and in some micro eddies for a quarter mile or more upstream.  

 

Decent sized browns (to 14 inches) and a few smaller rainbows made up the catch.  

 

Despite the Taylor's reputation calling for large dries and nymphs, today a #16 WRS on top and a #18 trailing buckskin worked very well.

As the afternoon was closing down, we then drove up above the Almont Triangle on a jeep road and settled in for the night.

A change in plans was in order for Thursday.  We'd initially wanted to fish the East River in early morning and then head to Crested Butte for breakfast, going over Kebler Pass to fish Anthracite Creek and other steams on that opposite drainage before camping atop the Crystal again.

On the East River below the bridge.

 

Instead we did drive to the East where I rigged up and did some wading on my own.  Without waders Sue felt it was just too cold to brave the waters - wet today.  

 

The East seemed to be running quite a bit higher than on previous trips here.  No kokanee were in the water yet.  

 

That run's going to start about the following weekend, but the local browns were in a feeding mode this morning.  It was amazing to find them coming to the surface at this early hour.  The fishing was just great by the bridge to Roaring Judy.

Strike after strike - both to the surface WRS and also the buckskin.  None were over a dozen inches in length, but the action was truly furious for the hour I was out there.  

 

Just outstanding fishing.

We ended the session and headed down to Gunnison for a breakfast at our favorite spot there - the Quarter Circle.  

 

It was great food as always, albeit with very slow service due to a staffing shortage.  Then it was off to the west on highway 50 where we stopped at the Beaver Creek rec. area and did some casting along the bank just above where Blue Mesa still backed up the river.  I had little success here while Sue found a shore side section that teemed with smaller rainbows.  She had a field day on sub eight inch fish, perhaps releasing 30 of them in a short span of time.

Off we went again.  This time taking the bridge across the lake to drive to Gateview and the Lake Fork of the Gunnison.  Our first stop was at the Gorsuch Easement, a spot we'd searched for previously but had not located.  After a short walk we arrived at what appeared to be outstanding water.  The whole .8 mile stretch had been artificially improved and structured.  Just wonderful looking pools and boulders throughout the area.

Appearances can be deceiving.  We basically struck out here.  I couldn't believe it.  Nothing worked.  Deep nymphing in the artificial pools brought nothing.  Attractors the same results.  Just unthinkable to not catch anything here.  Sue did release a small rainbow, and I had a couple of insignificant strikes, but that was it.  Very discouraging.

So it was further down the river to a deep cut where I'd had very nice success deep nymphing a previous trip here.  Today another complete bust.

A bit further we drove and finally I had a bit of success.  In a fairly fast riffle I found some scrappy rainbows working in that better aerated water.  It really was fun for a half hour or so - - until - - my Sage Fli rod broke just above the ferrule - for the third time in two years.  Happily I had a backup rod handy, but what a discouragement to lose that rod again.

So no more Sage for me.  In my life I've had one rod break previously, and it was one of those temperamental Loomis creations.  I actually loved the action of the Sage, but this kind of fragility is unacceptable.  Sage's customer service is terrific, but to pay another $50 just to probably go through this again next year makes no sense at all despite the warranty.  I'll find another high end rod that hopefully will stay together for a longer period of time.

The dogs are anxiously awaiting their dinner at camp above the Gunnison.

 

Enough of that.  Now it was off again on a long drive to our next destination - the Gunnison where it exits the gorge and joins the North Fork just west of Delta.  

 

We camped on a rocky and bone dry but pretty mesa overlooking the confluence of those two rivers.

As the temperature had been 95 degrees when we passed through Montrose the previous afternoon, it was our intention to wade the North Fork and hike about three miles up the main river - very early in the day - and be off that water by noon or so.

Sue about to release a good sized brown along the bank.

 

Which is what we did.  Began the hike around 8:00 and basically didn't fish a great deal of the water for an hour or so.  The Gunnison's still running quite a bit higher than in prior years, and the fish clearly are far more spread out.  

 

Sue caught a couple of nice browns in an eddy on the way upstream, but we really didn't get going until we were well up the river.

Then it got fun.  A double dry rig with a big rubber leg WRS up front and a #16 gray WRS at the back worked wonders.  Better fish took the bigger fly while the gray bug took sub twelve inchers or less.  It was very nice fishing, not only in a couple of quieter pools but in riffles and along the bank everywhere.

 

 

Nothing was super large today although the quantities made up for that particular lack.  My sixteen incher from a swift, shallow riffle was probably the best fish of the day.

 

We were back down the river and off the water just after noon.  

 

I actually made a few casts in the North Fork just beside the parking lot and played a dozen small browns in the space of just a few minutes.  Normally this stream is so warm fish just don't occupy it, but today it fished just fine.

Now we were heading home.  Drove over McClure Pass and did make a couple of quick stops on the Crystal.  It was getting late so the wades were a bit rushed.  Just another few fish on a rubber leg, but it was a decent ending to a nice three day trip.

 


 

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